February 13, 2023

Being Black and Bisexual: Navigating Life and Love with Travon Free

In this episode of the Beyond Dating podcast, host Stephanie and guest Travon Free discuss the experiences of being Black and bisexual in society. Travon mentions that people in the LGBTQ+ community have always existed, but now they have a space and freedom to be who they are. Travon finds it fascinating to learn about people who are different from themselves and is excited about the growing amount of literature and storytelling about different genders, sexualities, and identities. Travon highlights a Netflix show called "Heart Stopper" as the best representation of the experiences of someone discovering their bisexuality that he has seen. Travon encourages everyone to consume as much queer storytelling and literature as possible, whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not. Travon also acknowledges that there is still room for growth and improvement within the LGBTQ+ community, as there are issues such as racism, sexism, fat phobia, transphobia, and homophobia that still exist within it.

[00:00:00] Travon: I've had people like reach out to me like, I should I just, just say I'm gay? Like, would that just be easier? Like, I think that would be easier for me if I, I'm like, you shouldn't have to do

[00:00:14] Stephanie: that Today. On the Beyond Dating podcast, Trayvon shares how to change the narrative on black male bisexuality.

And our sponsor for today's episodes is beyond the newest dating app in town. Check it out@datebeyond.co. So what's it like dating? A six, seven. Man,

[00:00:56] Travon: you know what's, it's funny because it definitely helps . Yeah. Like, cuz I know people have this, uh,

like height really is a thing. Like we, we like, we're dating. Like, it's funny because some of the shorter guys I know, I'm like, uh, You get discriminated, you get like one of the . One of the few things I think women get to openly like discriminate back to men is height. Or like, I will not date a man who is, who is under this height.

And you're like, yeah, of course good for you. .

[00:01:41] Stephanie: But they're usually like five foot tall. Like what about, what about the tall girls? What are they supposed to do?

[00:01:46] Travon: Right. No, it's funny cause uh, Like, I remember one of my friends, we were at, uh, I forget, we were at a concert or something, and he introduced me to a friend of his who was his like, girl, tall, taller.

Um, and I couldn't tell if they were like a, like a thing or not. And I was like, oh, is are you guys? He's like, nah man, I'm too sure for . I was like, Aw man. I feel so bad for you.

[00:02:16] Stephanie: Aw. So do you like tall girls then, or short girls or all.

[00:02:21] Travon: I never really chased a particular height when I was dating. It was always just like, it just ha there was a, there was a trend of like, everyone seemed to be around the same height, but I think it was just cuz like the law of averages.

Okay. Like everybody was like five four. Five three. Felt like I met a couple five sevens over the, over the course of like college to.

God. Um, when I got to, when I moved to New York, like, cause I wasn't, I was working a lot, like I was so focused on me, there was a period where I just didn't date at all. Mm-hmm. because I was just like, I gotta get my life in a way that I want it to be, that I feel comfortable dating cuz like, I just didn't like being broke, trying to date.

It just didn't match up with like, It's like, well, how am I gonna do this if I ain't got no money? You know, like, so I just took like, it was like around 2010 to like 2012, or I just was like career, career, career, career, career, career, career. And then once I got hired at the Daily Show, and I actually had some money and I was like, all right, let's see what's going on out here in these streets.

But um, yeah, I was like, it was, there was the big gaps. Like I wasn't really, like, I wasn't a big app person mm-hmm. , the apps were just like, Too much for me and there's like a lot of racism and like weirdness on there anyway. Like you're just like, yeah, it's not fun, , there's no fun happening here. Get crazy on there.

So I was like determined that I would meet whoever I would date in person. That was like how I wanted it to happen, you know? Like I just felt like those were always better. Like, anyway, I don't think I've ever dated anyone that I actually. Like long term that I actually met on an app. Cause I wasn't ever, I wasn't really on 'em very long.

And the funny thing was like every time apps would like progress or like come out, I would've, I was dating someone at the time, oh, . So I always missed the like window. Like, um, they haven't used a dating app in got in years.

[00:04:49] Stephanie: If you could design your own dating app, what would, what would it do?

[00:04:53] Travon: Oh, that's a good question.

Myam my dating app.

It is hard because like the things that you could design in order to alleviate a lot of the crap that happens on dating apps are also the things that like worst kind of people take advantage of. Like even anonymity, right? Like it's not safe for women to be talking to some anonymous person on the internet, but like, That's also a thing that could also help re like re or lower, like pressure and anxiety and, and all that kind of stuff around talking to a person when you aren't necessarily seeing each other, which I think is like something Bumble did or something at some version of that.

Or like the person, like they, the woman. Decide if how the conversation, I don't know the exact details of it. The one has to like

[00:05:52] Stephanie: message you

[00:05:52] Travon: first, right? Yeah. Some version of that. Yeah. But like, um, yeah, that's a good question. Like, I don't, I'm, I'm not sure what elements of a dating app or of dating that I would, um, Change that would make, that would feel like it would make dating more successful or alleviate the things that I hated.

Cause like how do you, how do you code for like, uh, I only date white people was just my preference. Like, how do you code against that kind of shit, right? Mm-hmm. where you're trying to get people. To be open to the possibility of like, where love could be anywhere. And, um, yeah, I don't know how you do that.

I feel like, is there an app that's figured a way out of that pitfall? Like, I feel like I always hear the stories. I mean, we're working on it. I mean, , I've heard, I've like, like I remember my experiences of like dating apps and. It was, you know, I was, I was very strategic about it in terms of like who I was swiped left on or who I was swiped right on, that kind of thing.

I would like genuinely cons, like debate it. Like I wasn't one of those people who just like, and then one of my friends came to my apartment like, uh, God, probably like almost eight or nine years ago when I still lived in New York. And uh, I had just gotten out of a relationship. He was on Tinder and he, he was like, oh no, I just do this.

And he's literally just swiping right on every single person, , oh God, just doing this.

[00:07:45] Stephanie: You can't do that anymore. They put

[00:07:46] Travon: limits. They do. It's probably cuz people like him like 50 a day or something because like Yeah. Cuz you're like, oh yeah, like. . I haven't really matched anybody in like a long time. He's like, yeah, I just fucking, I don't care.

Like, just see where they are. that, right? Just like, see who likes you. It's like, okay, that makes sense. But I don't really have time for that. I don't, I'm not interested in swiping right on every single person because it's like, I also don't wanna like anybody out there thinking like, they might open their thing and think like, oh, this person, like, like I wasn't really like, I was just like playing the odds, right?

So, um, yeah, I. , what? What would you do? What would you put in there in a,

[00:08:27] Stephanie: I mean, we are working on a data gather , so you have ideas? Yeah, we have. We have some big ideas. Okay. Yeah, definitely will. That's just be a safer space and a more communicative space for people to date how they

[00:08:39] Travon: want. Yeah. I remember when I was at Daily Show, we did a thing about how like Asian men and black women had the worst, were the least desired people on the dating apps.

Mm-hmm. , and this was like, Uh, was this when, when John was still those cause No, this was in Trevor's house cuz Ronnie was the one who did it with Jessica and Ronnie Chang and j and Jessica Williams did a piece about like, exploring like why that was the case. And like, it was such a crazy thing that you, when you think about it,

technology makes it really easy. For people to disconnect from the thoughtfulness of racism, the like, the thoughtful, the part of your brain where you actually have to sit and think about what you're doing because it takes the emotion out of. Being like, well, no one's holding me accountable for just swiping on the white people like I can.

Like, but if you would never say that to a fir, like if you went on a speed dating and you walked into a room and there was a, a colorful group of people, you wouldn't just go to the white tables cuz you would be embarrassed. Like you would be ashamed to do that publicly. But it makes it real easy to hide behind, uh, your phone in that way and.

Yeah, I don't, I don't know how you fix that. I mean, those sound like societal issues that then bleed over into how you use technology. Right. Oops. ,

[00:10:08] Stephanie: we just have to set. I feel like it helps to set like a standard for how. how people are supposed to use the apps, you know? Right. Like I've definitely like reported people on dating sites before and like nothing happens.

Like, they're like, oh yeah, put in your email, we're gonna follow up with you and nothing. And I mean, as a black woman on a dating app, right, I get a bunch of. Specifically white dudes who are like, wow, I've never been with a black child before . Oh my gosh. I'm like, oh my gosh, that's so not a compliment.

Right? . And that does not make me wanna go out with you, right? Like, what are you

[00:10:46] Travon: thinking? Am I exotic food to you? Like I, I'm like, that's a fetish. I'm gonna try this crazy cuisine from this part of the world before you're

[00:10:54] Stephanie: like, and it sounds like they, they treat you like food, right? They talk to you like, oh, this is.

Delicacy or like

[00:11:00] Travon: a thing, I'm being adventurous. Ugh.

[00:11:04] Stephanie: Go be adventurous somewhere else on a plane. Like right, go on a hike or something that's adventurous. But take me on a date is not an adventure.

[00:11:13] Travon: Hey, it's not like something you write home about, like you particularly took a black person on a date. I, I did it.

Gold Star checked. Now I can tell people I'm, uh, I'm not racist. I'm not racist. I went out with a black girl. one time.

[00:11:28] Stephanie: It's like, I'm a homophobic, I know a gay person, . Right, right.

[00:11:31] Travon: No, that doesn't work. . We text all the time. .

[00:11:36] Stephanie: No, . So like have you noticed people are, I mean, people are better at hiding their like, you know, intentions.

Opinions now? Or has it, is it like the same as it was in the past?

[00:11:56] Travon: I think like what I, what I've gleamed from society as a person who, you know, has been in a long-term relationship now for a few years, it, it feels like people are trying to be more cautious about, um, How they present themselves on the app to not be shamed for it.

The one place I notice, like I see on social media all the time that people are not doing that is like Grinder or like places like that. Or they're like, they don't give a shit. They're just like, I'll say whatever, whatever I want all the time. Whate like, uh, no qualms about it, which is like that environment in that like community.

Of the, like the grinder types. It's such its own world, it's its own, uh, type of person. Um, but I hope people are becoming more conscious of how they think about dating and how they think about the people they encounter. Because I mean, like, it's like in the, in the world itself, statistically you're like, More likely to end up with someone of the same race, not necessarily because you are setting out to pursue them.

While some people are it. What I think happens is white people misunderstand why black people are like, I'm looking for somebody black. Because when you're like, I'm looking for someone, as a person of color, I'm looking for a person of color. It's like, because there's an understanding there, there's a protection there, there is a language there that does not need to be like taught or, or understood in a certain way.

Whereas white people, when they say, I'm only look at data, white person, that can mean a lot of things. , that can mean a lot of things. And um, part of that is. People of color have historically needed to seek protection within their own community. So it's not like black people and brown people aren't open to other races or open to dating white people.

It's just that like you guys made it difficult for us to. Have an easy way to engage in those relationships or even entertain them in a certain way. And so, yeah, it's like while like I think it's like 85 or 87% of black people in America are married to other, if they're married or married to other black people.

And it's like, yeah, that makes sense. You also, like you live around your community, you like tend to work in your community or um, on average. And so it makes sense that those numbers would look that way, but. It feel his, when you, when you put the history of who we are and who this place is on top of like dating and someone goes, I only date white people as a white person.

That sounds like it could be said today or 50 years ago, and have very like, and have the same meaning. Mm-hmm. , but now you can very much couch it in and they try to couch it in. Like, no, it's just like how black people are like, they only wanna date. It's like, no it's not. No, no it's not. We've

[00:15:16] Stephanie: all seen get outs, right.

Right. You don't,

[00:15:19] Travon: you're not seeking protection in the, in like your white relationship. Like you were seeking exclusivity and exclusion like you were seeking. Continue the power dynamic and continue the, uh, the continue to keep things the way they are to, to not, as, some people still feel like taint their, like their, their pool, right?

And so that now has become, I. coded in dating apps and like in the experience of people going, oh, it's just my preference. And it's like, yeah, it's not, it's not how, it's not how love works. It's not how, like, it's not how the brain works. Right. That's a choice. Yeah. Like I've met and liked and loved people of every color.

Right? Like it doesn't necessarily stop. because, or it doesn't become a more of a choice because someone's not black. Right? Like it's if you like a person, you like a person. If you don't, you don't. And if you are walking around with that in your mind, right? And your subconscious of like, I'm white, he has to be white, or she has to be white, like, you should probably interrogate that.

Mm-hmm. , you talk to your therapist about that and like really dig into why you might feel that way. And so like when. . I like, I noticed that trend on dating apps where it was like, oh, who am I matching with? Who am I not matching with? And it's like, yeah, not a lot of white people at the time. Like, you know what I mean?

Like it wasn't, it doesn't take long for you to notice. And so like, that's why when we did that piece with like Ronnie and Jessica was so fun because it was like also like really fucked up, like really sad. It was like, These while we were doing comedy. It's like, but they're also real people. Like they're not separated from the reality of what this thing actually is as a black woman and an Asian man.

Like, it's crazy.

[00:17:31] Stephanie: And do you think that that can change in the future? Do you have any ideas on how to make that

[00:17:37] Travon: change? I, I like to think that, I can believe, I like to think that I can believe in a world that I can't imagine, right? So like even though I don't necessarily know what like post-racial America looks like, and even though I don't have the answers, I can, I still believe.

there is an answer out there. There is a solution. There is a time where that could be a reality. And even though I can't imagine for my, uh, with my like limited mind and understanding of the world and technology like what a dating app looks like, that could solve that problem, I know it can be solved. I believe it can be solved and it is always great when.

When someone figures a heart problem out or they create a solution to a thing and you see it like you ever like see an ad for something and you go, oh my God, that's exactly what I need for that one problem I've been trying to solve. Or that one thing that I can never like fix or whatever. And you're like, yeah, like one day hopefully.

Somebody's gonna figure it out. Right. And, um, yeah, I, I don't, I don't know the solution, but I believe it, it's possible. Right.

[00:19:11] Stephanie: So if you could give any dating advice to any of the young people of color, what would you tell them?

[00:19:20] Travon: Um, I would say in 2023. Um. . I would say try to be as open minded as possible because the world is so different than it even was like 10 years ago, right?

Like dating is so different. The opportunities, people's identity and expression are so different. Like there's so many beautiful people in the world that are, um, Experiencing and getting to be free in so many different ways. And you've been locked into this sort of binary way of thinking about dating for so long.

And not even just like gendered binary, but just like the ways in which it's supposed to work. And I think if, if people who are experiencing, especially people experiencing hardships with dating, , if you try something new, if you open yourself up in a way that you probably haven't, kind of like when you plateau at the gym, right?

And you're like, oh, I have to, I've been doing the same thing for so long that my body no longer responds to it. I have to give it something new. I have to try something different. Like if you don't say you've never speed dated, right? Like you're just like, I'm determined to like find somebody on Tinder.

It's like, Go speed date, like, or go up to a person who you actually think is attractive and, and like start a conversation. Even if you've never done that, if you've like do the things that have traditionally or historically maybe made you uncomfortable or you are like afraid to do and you might be surprised at how uh, different the world might respond to you.

Cuz um, that was kind of how I was approaching dating. It was like, what can I do? That I haven't done, what can I do that hasn't worked? I, I, like, at one point, like when I was still living in New York, I literally was like about to go meet with a matchmaker person. Like it was like, I was like, that, that's new and interesting.

Like maybe, maybe something might come of that. Like, you know what I mean? Like, it's just being open to the possibility. Like if something, if you really are desiring companionship and love, like. I would say first and foremost, fall in love with yourself. Be comfortable with yourself. Be comfortable being alone because then you won't make rash decisions.

You won't like accept someone who maybe not be good for you because you just don't want to be by yourself. So start, definitely start with that, but just like. This is one of the most ju least judgmental times in history when it comes to dating and love. Like you get to really, like, you're almost, you're protected by the amount of freedom that is allowed to exist in the spa, in the dating space.

Like I saw a story recently where one of the most famous soccer players in the world was dating a trans model and no one cared. And you're like, what? Could you imagine that? Like even 10 years ago, 10, like, like, it wasn't even front page news. Like I only found out because like we were, uh, trying to ca like looking, like thinking of casting choices for, uh, a movie.

And I was like, oh, sh how, when did, how did I not know that happened? It was like beautiful in a way where you're like, damn, that happened And it went on for like a while and I had no idea. Like, it wasn't like thrown in your face and I, you didn't see people like going crazy about it. And it's like, that is a new level of freedom, right?

That is a new level of being able to go out and do and be, do whatever you wanna be, whoever you want, like right now. Like take advantage of that, right? Like, Why not?

[00:23:34] Stephanie: Why not? So then how do you define modern dating?

[00:23:42] Travon: Um,

I think modern dating has kind of almost been made more difficult by how f By how much? The world has opened up, right, in terms of the places and the options you have to go to look for love. Like you almost have, it's like walk into a buffet and you're like, oh my God, there's too many choices. There's too many options.

Um, so you could get like, there's a term for it. There's some, it's like, uh, like. Choice anxiety or something like that. I don't remember the terminology. Like when you walk into the toothpaste aisle and there's 20 different types of toothpaste mm-hmm. and, uh, you're like, fuck. Like, which one do I pick? They all seem like they do something like interesting or different.

You like, I just need to, like that kind of thing where, um, I feel like you,

we live in a world now where. There's an infinite possibility for love and companionship and what those relationships look like because they're defined so differently now and by the people inhabit them. Like I met, uh, I did a, I'm really a standup show, maybe like five or six years. and I met this guy who was asexual.

He was a comedian, and I had never met a person who was like openly, hourly, asexual. And I was so fascinated by it. Like what is that? Like? What is that like? Like what are your relationships like? Like what is like everyday life like? Because when you think about our everyday life is really consumed with the pursuit of companionship, when you really like break it down, it's like, Chappelle made a funny joke many, many, many, many years ago, and like one of his early specials about how everything a man does is in pursuit of like a woman, no matter like how small it is, no matter, literally, you could break it down and you could draw a direct line to how he did that so that one day he could get like that like a woman.

And uh, and it really like when you think about it, it's like, what are we. We've put all these things in the way of what we are actually doing as human beings, which is finding a partner and procreating, right? That's kind of like as animals as, uh, like that's what we are designed to do. We just are so high functioning that we gave ourselves jobs and, and like work and, and like games and sports and all this shit that we do in between looking for companionship.

Right? And so I think it's, it's interesting that in terms of modern dating, it can be done. In so many different ways, in so many different combinations and so many different flavors of like this gender and that person and this type of relationship, the polyamorous person, like all these com different combinations of people.

When you. . Even now I see things and I go, oh, I never would've thought like that would've been a thing. Like, that's fascinating. Like I wanna understand more about how those people coexist or how that relationship works because I might be able to learn something from it that might work in my life. Right.

Um, so I think now you have the chance to be as. as free and experimental as humanly possible. And to me like that's, it's a great time to live in.

[00:27:31] Stephanie: Mm-hmm. . And then on like human sexuality and like people's sexuality, what, like what have you noticed? I mean, it's changed so much, like people are out and open, like you said, and Yeah.

Like what differences have you noticed and like what benefits have you seen come across people just like embracing. All the different options

[00:27:51] Travon: out there. I mean, I think what's, it's been great to see so many people of color be able to like live in the, the body they wanna live in and the way they wanna live in it.

Because it wasn't that way even 10 years ago, like, like I remember when I came out it was like a big deal and it was like I didn't meet another. I didn't meet another bi openly, bi black man until 2018. Oh, wow. Um, like genuinely, like I came out a long time ago and to this day, like I've. Two . Two , and uh, and like both of them are my friends now, like, but like that's how I met them.

Like they were people who, who like saw me in the world and were like, thank you for like giving me a little bit more. Freedom to be like who I am. And there's like, there's people who like, who are still, you know, closeted for whatever reason. I know some of, and then you're like, you know, you hope that

this world that we live in gives them the freedom to recognize you don't have to hold onto that anymore. Like you can, you really are. Safe in letting go of that, that experience and those feelings. But it's been great to see how we have to now really be conscious of like how we gender people in our conversations and like how we don't just slap a boy and a girl on a bathroom door and things like that.

Where it's ex it's, it's given people.

The opportunity to see that these people didn't just pop up three, five years ago. They've always existed. They just never had space. They never had safety. They never had the freedom to be like B non-binary people didn't, weren't invented in fucking 2018 or 2019 like, no, they've been around since the beginning of fucking like, man, you just were.

allowing a space for them to be in the same way with anybody in the, uh, like queer non-binary spectrum of like wanting and needing that space. And it happened, it, the space grew expanded quickly, but I think that was a product of, you know, time and who we are. And you know, how hard people, the ground that was laid before, you know, by other, um, Um, marginalized groups and so I love seeing people out in the world being who they are, being whoever they want to be, dating, whoever they want to be.

Like. Um, I'm excited when I meet people who aren't just like, I'm just a straight person. Like I love it cuz I'm like, I wanna learn about you. I wanna learn about things. I don't know. I wanna understand who you are and like, what your life has been like in both in private and hiding and like in the, out, in the open.

Like that's fascinating to me. Like especially as a, a queer person where you're like, for so long in, like, in my situation, you're not around anyone like you, or at least who's openly like you. You spend the, you spend the majority of your formative years kind of alone. , right. So you don't, there's a lot, you aren't learning about the world or about people that now you, the chance that you actually have to learn it.

Like the amount of literature that exists now and storytelling that's happening now around different genders and sexualities and, and identities is like, it's incredible. Mm-hmm. , like the stories we're telling are amazing and. , that's me is exciting. I wanna see that continue to

[00:32:11] Stephanie: flourish. What's been your favorite story that either you've experienced or that you've heard that could be helpful to people watching or people like queer people of color who are entering the world, who don't have the community around them?

[00:32:30] Travon: Um, Story. Um, you know, it's funny of all the movies and TV shows that have popped up in the last however many years about identity and sexuality, one of the best, or I think well done shows that tackled it was, uh, I think it's called a heart stopper. Okay. On Netflix? Is that what it's called? I haven't seen that.

Oh no. What Like, I hope I got the name right. I think it's called Heart Stopper, but it's like, like it centers around these two white kids in the uk, which is like, yeah, whatever, like that's tv. But the way it handled this kid who is trying to like un discover who he was and was discovering who he was, especially.

Dealing with a bi character, which I, this I see just poorly handled all the time. And so people do such a bad job with it. They did a, it was the first time I saw a character on tv Do what I would, what I did, like go through the cycle that I was going through when I was trying to figure out like what was going on with me.

And I was like, oh, that. that's familiar. Like I've, I've not experienced a show or mo like there's so many shows and movies about gay relationships or like people exploring who they are and discovering, oh, I think I might be gay. And it's like, yeah, I identify with that in a way, like to a degree, but truly, truly seeing something that made me feel like, oh, that, that's my life.

Like, is. has not happened in totality, but that show came really close. That was the best I had seen it done, and I, and I feel like people who are still in that space of like, I don't necessarily know if I want to come out or who I am or, and anything like that. Like I, I would actually recommend watching that show.

It's actually really, really well done. Um, but, um, , I think people should consume as much queer storytelling and non-fiction fiction as, as humanly possible. Because if you're, if you consider yourself, um, cis heterosexual, whatever you want to, like, if you consider, you're like, I'm not in that group. Mm-hmm.

there's still a lot for you to learn from. From that world and the people within that world. There's a lot, there's still a lot of, there's still a lot of room to grow for queer people within the community, especially as it relates to black and white people in the community. Like there's still a lot of racism in the queer community.

There's still a lot of, uh, sexism. There's still a lot of fat phobia. There's still a lot of transphobia. There's still a lot of homophobia in the queer community. There's a lot of issues. That persists within the community where you think you are supposed to be safe. And so I would encourage people to like expand their horizons.

Like if you're just like a white gay dude, go like, read a book about a trans person's experience. Like if you're, uh, go read a book about a black, just a black gay person's experience, like you don't even have to go so far. It's like, I wanna go read a book about a black trans person. So I like just open your mind a little bit to the world, even within your own world because.

It really is like that micro work. Pushes progress forward. It's like it takes a group of people who've done that work to, you know, help push society forward in, in the way that we got to here. We got to now and I'm excited to see what that looks like and even 10 years from now.

[00:36:34] Stephanie: Yeah, my gosh. It's gonna be, I hope it's gonna be incredible.

what have you learned, you know, dating and being like openly BI for so long? What has your dating experience been like?

[00:36:47] Travon: Um,

it was, it was interesting. It was, I was always, because I was, you know, my twenties were at a time where the world didn't look like this when it came to sexuality, so it was still very, it was a lot more rigid. I was only, I'm 37, so that was only like seven, eight years ago when I was in my twenties and. Uh, in my mid twenties in like the early, like, what was it, 2007?

I graduated college. I was 22, so like around 2010, like 25. And you're like out there in the world and you're, you know, I was out when I was like 22. And um, and there there was still a lot of apprehension around. dating women, because that was where I experienced the most, like outward rejection for, you know, being bi, right?

It's like, oh, like I never had to tell a guy, I never had to say to a guy, oh, by the way, I'm bi. It's like, if I'm in the space and I'm engaging with you in a certain way, at the very least, you know, like I'm here for it. So you don't need to know how I define like myself. You're like, I'm down. You're down.

So we're on the same page. Whereas for women, Lisa, at that time, especially, like I understood the nature of why you need to know, um, but there was a lot more to it than that. It was a, there was, there was a lot of like homophobia built into. Biphobia built into some of those experiences where it's like, oh, you just, you thought you liked me until you like mm-hmm.

until you knew and that, and now that, like, you know, that's changed. Your buying is going, doing all these. Flips about like, is he gonna give me something? Or like, is he actually bye? Is he like gonna like make me fall in love with him and then be like, actually I'm gay. Like all these things are going through your mind, which, you know, I can sympathize with.

I understand those like fears for something you don't really understand because obviously at that time the world is not engaging with the subject in a way that could make you understand it, uh, to a certain degree. But for me, there was always. anxiety around if I ever, if I was meeting a woman who I was interested in.

And so it made dating, or at least pursuing or allowing myself to engage in the idea of dating men a lot easier. But like, I always, funny enough, like whenever, when I got into a relationship, it was usually with a woman. Like, um, I think I've definitely had more female relationships than male. , but it was,

I don't know. It, it seems like men were just so like different and when it came to the relationship part that those never stuck in the same way. Mm-hmm. . Um, so a lot of my, like most recent long-term relationships were. Women because of like the ones who were cool with it. Um, like it just, it worked out.

And, um, like one of my relationships, uh, she told me she had to like convene her friends to like decide if it was like, A good idea. Right? Right. Friends have to approve. Right. And so you're like, but that was what it was like, like 10 years ago where people were like, I don't know. Like it was even like I, we watching Insecure, but I don't even remember there was a plot line of Insecure where like she finds out, he's like dated guys and then she has to like call the girls together, like by committee.

Like should I, am I doing, should I do this? I like him, but like this is, and. So that, that was what that was like for a long time. And then, um,

it got to the point where I was dating. When I was dating. People would just Google me and they would find out anyway. They would know before they showed up. So it was like, take the pressure off me. I was always happy. , the higher my profile rose, cause it just made, it le made me have to do. Less work about explaining like who I was or what I was like when I sold my show to H B O.

That was like about, uh, dating as a bi black person. Like if you searched my name, that came up and you knew like that was a show based on my life, that kind of thing. So people would know, sometimes people wouldn't even say anything. Um, it definitely made it easier for me to go into the situation not feeling the pressure to come.

over and over and over and over again cuz it like, it's just not fun to feel that like, oh God, I gotta go. Like, I gotta go through this all over again. I gotta like feel this. When, what's the right date to say like, you know, what's the right time? Like I don't feel they're entitled to it on the first date if they don't know because like, It's not necessarily like a thing that should matter, but like our thing is getting serious by the third date.

Do I need to tell them now? Do they know already? Like you're doing all this work, these mental gymnastics and um, . Yeah, that part, that part sucked. I was happy I not have to do that anymore. But do

[00:42:51] Stephanie: you think that, um, that like the stigmatization has like changed within, like specifically within the black community and with like black women and their opinions towards bisexual and bisexual black men?

[00:43:06] Travon: You know, I want to believe, I, I think it's. in general, I'd say, I think it probably eased a little. I, I'm not sure in totality how much, um, I'm curious to like see where like black society, black America is with a lot of those issues now. Like I would love to know. Someone just take a poll, like talk or just go talk to like black women all around America.

Like how do you feel about, um, you know, bi men in 2023? Mm-hmm. and like really take the temperature. Cause I think it's a thing that doesn't come up a lot. Like it, it kind of gets like the. The invisibility of Biasness is so pervasive. It's so easy to, to, um, ignore. It's very easy in the community for people to latch onto gay, lesbian, trans.

But like, I still get asked like, are you really? Like, are you, like, are you really like fucking 20, 22, 20? Like, you're like, geez. It's like still, you're like, so that, those moments make me think like, oh, maybe things haven't changed. At least in, in that regard too much. Like maybe we're inching in the bi community towards like in the way that seems like some people are like racing through progress, um, and acceptance.

Um, but I would say like, I hope that black women are, or have become more open-minded since I was like last dating like four years ago because you're like, you're missing out on some really great people like. The handful of BI people I know are like truly some, like really, really amazing dope people. And um, you hear people go, oh, I'm looking for this and I just want this and I just want that.

And it's like, well, the end of that sentence is I want that in this package. , right? It's like, I want this, I want this on this. Where it's like, well, if you met a guy who had it and he happened to just also have dated men in his life, like, are you. Are you gonna reject that? Reject him for that like reason, like I'll never forget, like hearing Amber Roses talk about why she would never date a bye guy and you're like, the amount of hypocrisy that was happening in that conversation where you're like, how fucking dare you?

Like really you of all people? Um, but like that it was a reminder of. , even people who are supposed to be like queer, queer allies and on, and freedom of gender expression and sexuality and all this stuff, still have the same hangups, the same biases, and the same, um, phobias like.

people have had for so long, especially when it came to bi men, and I think that's why some men just go, I'm just gonna, I've had people like reach out and like, I, should I just, just say I'm gay? Mm-hmm. , like, would that just be easier? Like, I think that'd be easier for me if I, and I'm like, , you shouldn't have to do that.

Like if you genuinely believe your bi, like you shouldn't have to do that. And it sucks that you feel like you have to do that. And, um, it's thing, it's hearing things like that that make people go like, I'm just gonna pick a side when I really feel like this. And it's why like suicide and depression is so high in the BI community because, it is, it could be torturous.

Like it could really be difficult when you feel like you don't fit in on either side and, um, because even, even like gay guys will be like, are you really about like, come on, like just, just say you're gay. Like I've had like people, like friends or people that I knew. Uh, you know, when I was younger, who would just be like, ah, they would just say I was gay.

And I'm like, but I'm not like, I, like, I have to correct you. That's just not accurate. Like , like, I know it's easier for you or it feels convenient to say it, but it is not the truth. Do it. Right. And so, yeah, it's like, it makes it a lot more, uh, mentally exhausting than it has to be at times. It's just where we are, where we were, um, and kind of still are in some regards.


[00:48:14] Stephanie: then what are, speaking of like, um, like content that we're consuming about the BI community, what are some of the biggest like stereotypes that you see in like mainstream media that are negative towards the BI community and that you would like change? And how would you wanna portray bisexuality?

[00:48:34] Travon: Um,

there, there's still a, a good amount of like the shady oversexualized, bisexual, and the um, uh, What am I thinking of? Like

the bisexual who doesn't know if they're really bisexual, um, or not, not necessarily confident in it, or grounded in it, or, um,

where someone might create a character who might be kind of more truthful. , but the people around them aren't. The people around them are dis, are like disregarding and downplaying who they are. And like, that's where the joke stops. It's never like the person standing up for themself. It's like, uh, I'm gonna create a by character, but these other characters are gonna just like shit on their sexuality all the time.

Um, and treated like it's not real kind of thing. Um, . But the problem with stereotypes like the overly promiscuous bisexual is it actually does a disservice to the bisexual person who wants to have sex with whoever they want whenever they want, because. , you've not shown any other example of who they could be.

So now, if you actually met a person like that and you go, yeah, see that is who you are. That is how you guys are, and you're like, no. You've just seen the one that TV and and film thinks is exciting. Mm-hmm. , because sex on TV and film is exciting to people. And so until you've shown. The vast array of different types of a person and shown the, like the depths of, of a type of person, the stereotype will always prevail.

And so like you should be allowed to have a character who is both trying to, you know, Figure life out, but also like maybe sleeps around and you don't attribute the sleeping around to their sexuality, but it could be just a facet of their personality. It could be a faac. A lot of people sleep around. A lot of people aren't monogamous and aren't committed to relationships or afraid of commitment.

It doesn't inherently mean it's about their sexuality. It's about who they are as a person and what are they afraid of commitment for. They don't have to be afraid of commitment because they also happen to sleep with both genders or, or, uh, or any gender person. It. Like, that's just a, they just have more options than you might as a cis, hetero person.

Mm-hmm. . But it's not because, oh, it's because you're bi that you like, you, you just want everything. Mm-hmm. , you're greedy. You're like, I've heard that a few times. like, yeah. Like, no, like, that's not how it works. It's just you've only been exposed to the quote unquote sexy version of what it means. Like, oh, we could show a guy who sleeps around with a lot of.

What if we showed one who sat around with a lot of men and women? Ooh. That's the next level of like, yeah. Right. Or like's Fey now. Like, um, uh, there's that one character on the Good Wife, uh, who was bisexual. The woman who was like the fixer character. I don't know if you watched The Good Wife, but I have not.

Was, I don't watch a lot of TV . It was, it was a good show. It was. It's not on anymore, but it was a good show. Um, but she was one of those characters that. Would, you know, occasionally use her sexuality to, you know, get things done and, but they did it in a way where you didn't feel like it was the only thing about her sexuality that was interesting.

Right. And so, um,

I think the people who were, a lot of the people who are writing by Charact. Either don't care enough about them or don't understand the experience well enough to truly do its service to truly, truly do its service. I think Desiree Akon did a great job on her show, the Bisexual, where she was like kind of learning her character's kind of learning, uh, that she's like, oh, not a lesbian.

I think I actually might be bi, like that kind of thing. And she did it really well. Um, It's one of the like rare examples because you know, also who's going to make that show for us? Like, who's going to let, like, um, who wants to put that story out into the world? Like I have a pilot that I wrote that I sold to H B O that is now back on the market about that subject matter.

Mm-hmm. and it's like, If someone wants to tell that truth, if someone wants that story to be told and be told from the perspective of someone who lived it and experiences it and knows the ins and outs of it and wants to tell nothing story, it, it exists. Um, but I don't think it's still that thing where, like I've even experienced on the executive side of Hollywood or people going, I don't know if that's a real thing.

Right. So Oof. So you're like, that's what you're up against. Like even the people buying the shows are like, don't think you're a real person. Mm-hmm. .

[00:54:38] Stephanie: So how do we make, I don't know. How do we show people that we're real people?

[00:54:45] Travon: I mean, I think it takes more of us. being out and open about our experiences.

Like it's, you just need more, like every year you see the, like studying. You're like, bi people are the biggest population of the biggest number of people in the community. And you're like, where the fuck are they? Mm-hmm. , like, I don't really see them, like I don't hear from them. Like, I want to see more of us out in the world talking about our experiences and what it's like.

Feeling like we represent such a large portion of the community. And because what you're really telling me is like, oh, you mean the largest group within the community has no representation in film and TV or media, like whatsoever. Like it's just this like minuscule thing that pops up every now and then.

So, um, yeah, I hope in all of my endeavors I. A studio or a TV executive who's excited to tell that story because it's waiting and there are people who can tell it and tell it really well. .

[00:56:02] Stephanie: Well, I really hope that happens because I would love to see more by representation and more like people of color who are just represented in queer spaces.

Absolutely. Yeah. Well, thank you for chatting with me. I hope we can do this again and maybe we can solve these

[00:56:17] Travon: problems, . Yeah. Thank you for having me. This is fun. Yay.

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